“Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.” -Sarah Ban Breathnach.
As with every new year we get a clean hopeful slate on which to scribble our aspirations on. Many resolutions are made, but notoriously not kept. They begin with a vigor only to be abandonedhalf way or later on. Why? Do we have short attention spans, lose focus, get tired easily, or just make goals up for fun?It’s likely a small amount of all of those but mainly what we choose to focus on. Are we keeping our eye continually on the prize and remaining positive or letting fear and doubt creep in on us? Many times in the pursuit of happiness we need to build adefense wall up against fear and doubt. This New Year began with me down in the trenches and feeling hopelessly sad. However, as thenew days of January began to pour in, I shifted my focus and the gloom lifted. I had to consciously choose to look at the bright side of the coming year. Even in the little things like a great upcoming film, phone upgrade(I love new gadgets), or paying down my debts. Those are all good things to look forward to and helped nudge that gloom on it’s way right out of the door. Today, I am hopeful about the future because I’m only seeing the good things. I have eliminated watchingreading or listeningto negative content. Cutting out as much negative(or dark) noise from your reality is crucial. Just like advertising can subconsciously and subtly have an effect on you, so can the negative influences in the world around us. Therefore, keep it light! You may have to cut out a show or certain music, but the resulting clearing of air and your mind is well worth it. The effects of being choosey about what you let in arehuge. Don’t accept those negative things(or thoughts) through the gates of your mind. Be a vigilante! Stop those thoughts from entering before they even begin. Better yet, negate those negative thoughts and give them a dose of their own medicine. When you hear a voice that whispers things like “Your never going to get there.” or “ It’s not going to happen.” and “Why even bother?” Declare out loud the opposite of those statements. After all, even Michelangelo’s masterpiece the David; was formed by diligently chipping away at a massive block of marble. Not to mention, marble is one of the hardest rocks out there. Dare I say it’s difficult just as your circumstances or goals may be. Except, Michelangelo persevered and look what He accomplished? A timeless and breath taking masterpiece! In the same way make your life a David.
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”- Confucius.
I’m absolutely positive that had I died, my Mother would deeply regret all the times She turned me away as a child asking Her to play.Because childhood is precious and fleeting, and because many years later that same little girl was nearly wiped off the planet. Surely, looking back onall those missed opportunities for memory making itwould have been painful to recall. Many times we do the same thing to our opportunities.Just because they are not living and breathing creatures, itmakes them no less valuable. When you ignore them or send them away, they can die just the same. How many opportunities have we let quietly slink away and die?Death has a way of making us take things more seriously. However, it is alsobecause of death, that we value life more. Although, it is nearly impossible to recognize all of these opportunities in ourbusy dailylives, luckily they give us many chances to recognize them. Just as sure as the sun will risetomorrow, we will be met with another opportunity.Witheach one is the possibility for making memories, maybe money, generating happiness, or meeting someone you will never forget. Each time we knowingly let one of these opportunities pass us by, it’s a tragedy. Because, ultimately it is us who miss out. As lifewinds down or if it is ever threatened,these opportunities becomemuch easier to spot. Therefore, do not fear the finite amount of time we have on this earth, but instead embrace it!
“In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. That means we have 1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.” -Les Brown.
Just as the ebb and flow of a river is changed when a large boulder is dropped into it, so are our lives when we encounter the large impact of another human being.Ever since the ebb and flow of my life was radically impacted I’ve been contemplating the effectsthat other people have on the course of our lives.Are wepredestined as if by fate and have everything chosen for us? -or- are we but an energetic pinball bouncing off of different circumstances in an infinite universe? Perhaps it is a combination of the two. However, neither of these take into account the random impact thatothers can have on us. Some people will change your direction while others help spur us forward, and yet some will stop us in our tracks. While the impact from each of these is different they are allequally helpful. Why?Because,each one has brought you to where you are nowor taught you a lesson in some way. Some of these human boulders are extremely helpful while others feel extremely unhelpful(at least at the time) buteach one can teach usa valuable lesson. Besides the rivers of life being changed due to a boulder, we can also become stuck as if a dam was built to stop us. How does one get around a dam when it happens? Simple, you must find a way to open it and let the river flow again.Even rivers start witha small drip(headwaters) until they form a puddle whichwill begin to run down a slope in a trickle and eventuallybecome ariver. Althoughvery small, this is where it all begins.Nature itself hasshown us that bigthings can originate from justa smallaction. As with a river even if you’re going downhill, by beginning with a small (positive)action that accumulates into many, you too can become a mighty rushing river!
“Isn’t it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity.”- Vaclav Havel.
When a horrendous situation is thrust upon us, we often lament “Why me!?” However, abetter question is “Why not me?’ Terrible things happen every dayto guilty and innocentpeople alike.Each of us at birth were not promised a problem free life. In fact quite the opposite as our new Parents worried increasingly as we grew up. Because, at that momentthey knew what we didn’t; that life is difficultand dangerous. Therefore, they sought to protect us as best as they could without confiningus solelyto the house. It’s not a questionof why did it happen,but since it has how will you react to it? What will you do under the circumstances?Will this reveal your character or diminish it?Some people believe in fate, that our lives have been pre-orchestrated for us. This is not so, life is a series of choices no matter how small. The choices we make continuously throughout life culminate into our circumstance. When those choices are taken away and we find ourselves in a bad circumstance, we stillhave choices.When bad things happen it’s easy to give in, but ultimately at some pointwe must choose to get out.You cantake steps no matterhow small(mentally or physically) to escape your bad circumstance.When I first was injured the last thing I wanted to do was get out of my warm comfortable bedfor therapy or a painfully early doctor appointment. Except I pushed through and did it anyway. At that point I had no choice but to get better, because I was starting from the lowest point reached in my life . Each day you make the choice to get better your addingto thebank of your future and making it brighter. Your seemingly small action is priceless and will culminate into better days ahead. So, have heart brave soldier and carry on. I promise you won’t regret it!
“A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.”
― Theodore Roosevelt.
Every day we choose to move forwardwith hope,with determination, with perseverance, and tenacity we havecasted our vote. Because, not every election is political. Many times we need to vote for ourselves, our future, our dreams, and above all choose life over death. Throughout my recovery I have had to choose between giving up, giving in, or, giving it everythingI’ve got. When faced with insurmountable circumstancesthe struggle and the “race,” is very real. What you decide to invest in or votefor, will determine the direction in which your life goes. However, in order to win or finish the race, you cannot quit running. No matter how you feel it will do you wellto get up and face the day anyway. Whateverplace you’re in there is always a chancefor progress. The gains are not always instantaneous but with diligentwork they will soon become evident. Therefore, have heartand ignore the naysayers! My friends, you’ll blow right past them by maintaining your focus onyour main goal. Whether it be the oval office ortoattain your dream, both are achievable. Just as sure as the sky is blue I believe you can do it. More importantly, do you believe in yourself? The indomitable human spirit is capable ofamazingthings Ipromise you that. Therefore, get out of bed even though you’d like to hide in it because your resolve feels weak.The vote you cast in yourself and for your future, will give your feet a strong reason to hit the floor every morning and get moving.
“Having hit a wall, the next logical step is not to bang our heads against it.”- Stephen Harper.
Whether the wall is a physical one(visible) or an emotional one(invisible) we all are facing a wall of some kind. These walls separate us from our goals, desires, forward movement, and even other people. It is interesting to note that thenon-physical can literally stop us in our tracks. Among the lies we tell ourselvesare fear and worry. These two things have an especially good knack for stopping us from what we really want. Because of these negative emotions and their mind games wetend to lose the ability to move ina forward direction. Beyondthis wall is a more positive self image that will spurn us upward and onward! To changethe circumstance, we need to change our self image. Thetrifecta of anger, complaints, and ungratefulness is a sure road to failure. It iswith a positive self image and thankfulness that we’ll find the keys to success. However, this is more then just positive thinking, we literally must change our self image in order to succeed. This is not an easy feat, especially when you’re caught in the midst of circumstances you hate. The trick is, by finding things you are grateful for inthe middle oflife’s storms, they will hold less power over you andtheir effects won’t be so devastating. This in turn will open up an in road beyond the wall that you face.By recognizing your strength rather then weakness, the good over the bad, and taking a reflective moment each day to see these things, you’ll be well on your way beyond the wall that is stopping you. Be the victor rather then the victim, and the healed rather then the sick!
“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott.
The Jersey Shore is a testament to resilience, community, and triumph. It is a place that was nearly destroyed and its residents run off after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Yettoday itstillstandsstrong and as beautiful as ever. Just as the ocean waves rushed in causing destruction, the residents have returnedand rebuilt.Within the borders of the beach you’ll find a community of close knit families, tourists, and friends. Just as the towns along the shorehave survived and are thriving, so are these relationships. Infact I enjoyed a week in Lavallette New Jersey at the shore because of one of these relationships. It is one that like the shore itself, has withstoodthe tests of time andthe battering ram of ahorrific hurricane. In this caseit was with long time and much loved friends that have been with me since beforethe massive stroke. Anything that canwithstand such an event deserves recognition. Because,stories of victory are few and far between outside of superhero movies.However, there are plenty of real life superhero stories.Theygive us hope, they give us strength, andremind usof why we keep on going. Therefore,we need to hear even morestories like these. Surrounded by the newly rebuilt homes and beautiful beach front, I observed a community that rallied together and rose up under theEast Coast sun. There was life, laughter, and plenty of love coursing through the streetsthat were once threatened with total destruction. Itreminded me that even though life mayput us throughunsuspected andseemingly insurmountable circumstances, we can still emerge on the other side of them just as strong. Indeed we can emerge even stronger than before! They refine us like the ocean waves smooth out rough rocks and bits of glass. The relationships thatsurvive the storms with us are like little protective cacoons of love. Just as we become stronger because of the storm, so do they. Whileit’s difficultto find any thankfulness for theselife storms, I am thankful for the aftermath. Thesestorms leave survivors stronger, with wisdom, and highlighting the love we sometimes forgetexists.
“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?”
― Scott Turow, Ordinary Heroes.
Stories of triumph, stories of success, and stories of dreams coming true. These are the kinds of tales that keep us alive and keep us going. For me, these stories were a life boat in the middle of a dark and stormy ocean. The stories you and I tell ourselves make a tremendous impact on how we feel and in which direction we go. The difference between a good story and a bad one canput into motion either success or failure When every avenue seemed bleak, I could always pullpositive stories from my memory library to serve as an escape. My current life circumstances(post stroke) were a sinking ship of titanic proportions. However, reaching back into my memory banks, I could pull a story from a happier time. Without these invisible books I was headed for the bottom gasping for air, another casualty of life’sbad circumstances.While these books seem imaginary, the life lines they offer are very real. These stories told me I could accomplish my dreams as I had before, that the impossible was possible(as possible is part of the word itself) and gave me a reason to get up in the morning rather then languish in bed. A good story will motivate you and give you confidence, while a bad one will take away all of your hope. Do you suppose that thelegends of our time told themselves stories of failure?I’m certain it was just the opposite! I posit they reassured themselves that their mountains could be conquered. In this way we need to do the same thing. Whatever your goal, tell yourself that you canand thenpull examples of all your past successes. The longer you ruminate on past or current(perceived or real) failures, the longer you’ll remain in unwanted circumstances. By dwelling you effectively anchor yourself in shallow waters. Therefore, use positive stories toputthe windin your sails and venture to deeper waters. It is there you’ll find more to explore and myriad possibilities. Furthermore, surround yourself with people that add to the positive stories rather than help anchor you in shallow waters.
“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.”
― Roman Payne.
I am not the sole creator or proprietor of my own life. For example, my Mothergave me a creativenature, my Father a strong work ethic, friends helped me learn some life lessons along the way, and my intelligence was(is) God given. Therefore, I am not merely one thing, but many pieces that create a whole. However, I am certainly responsible for which direction I head in, but I cannot take all the credit. It’s actually difficult to pick one singular direction because life offers so many. It’s as if we’re perpetually at afive way street crossing, or fork in the road. This is compounded by the fact that we have so many different parts to us. This is what happens when you exist in a worldthat contains many different outside influences. It is neither small norclosed off, but in fact it is endless! Since we are made up of so many aspects, why then,do we only live for ourselves?To be selfless over selfish is more rewarding and beneficial. It has even been shown in nature, that the most selfish creatures are less likely to survive. Apparently this didn’t cross over too much into human existence, or so it seems. However, if youpay attention it absolutely did! People and societies that exhibit high levels of selfishness, often don’t do as well, and are least liked. On alarge scaleit would make sense if the world were moregiving(and forgiving) but even more so on a personal level weneed to be more giving(and forgiving) to one another. After all, it has to start somewhere. Not to mention, each large and obvious movement(be it physical or societal) begins as a small quiet seemingly invisibleaction. A sweep of your arm is first triggered by tiny signalsin the neurons of your brain. What you eventually see and feelphysically, starts out somewhere unseen. The sameapplies to social movements, dreams, and hopes that you have for the future.Therefore, go forward with confidence and be the change that you want to see in the world andin your own life.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”- Marcel Proust.
Memories can be a blessingor a curse to us, or sometimeseven a torment.We all have memories of better times in thepast than our currentcircumstances, thatcan serve as cruel reminders. However, what if we had no recollection of our past at all, but only awareness of the present?This would allow us to remove the usual blinders we have on and see our lives from a new perspective. Not only this, but we would experiencea new(even heightened) level of gratitude for what we do have, rather than always compare things to what we had before. Not to mention, the problem many have of constant comparison to others.This doesn’t mean we should forget our past,because we can learn so much from it and useit as a guide.For a good number of months my memories of life before the stroke would torment me.I dared not linger in bed too long and let the negative thoughts traverse my mind. Because, I could remember what it was like notto have so many doctor appointments,be free of braces,run, walk normally, drive a car,live independently, and not have any type of rehabilitation. I surmised that those who had never experienced a “normal,” lifehad it better because they had nothing in which to comparetheir current circumstances to. Therefore, they were likely experiencing more gratitude and happinessthan I was. However, as life often does, perhaps this was my lesson to learn. Regardless of my circumstance I had to learn to look for the roses among the thorns. Each negative thought needed to be taken into captivity, inspected for helpfulness, and thrown out. Because, if a thought that floats into your head isn’t helpful,it doesn’t deserve to be there. I cannot afford to entertainor accumulate these negative thoughts, and neither can you. They only serve to create sprawling toxic black trees in our brains, rather than healthy green ones. This certainly does not bring us life but only death. We need to practice mindfulness, so don’t hesitate to police your thoughts! Very often what we’re thinking will determine what we’re experiencing.